I can see my 16 year old self rolling her eyes.
I picture the mother in her denim jumper, the Muslim girl at the pool, and the scantly dressed “nurse” on Halloween.
One has her nose in the air, the other is told the sight of her skin is an excuse for a boy to abuse her, and the other wants to feel beautiful and wanted.
Modesty is misrepresented.
I posted this article this week with this question:”What do you think of the ‘Christian modesty rules’? Should we give our daughters rules? Should we teach them the theology behind modesty and let them decide?”
I got a lot of responses to the question and I got a lot of laughs from her post. As Christians I think we need to address both the rules that are becoming hilarious and the way we are responding to the lists. Thank you to all of those who responded and added to this difficult conversation.
When I was in Junior High and High School the question was: “As Christian teen girls how should we dress?” unfortunately that skips over so much of discussion that should come first and it was usually followed by a list of dos and don’ts. Much of our conversation was about drawing lines instead of searching our hearts.
How did God create Adam and Eve?
Naked and unashamed. (Gen 1:26-28; 2:725)
Why can’t we still be naked?
When Adam and Eve sinned they became aware of their nakedness and hid. GOD CLOTHED THEM in the skin of an animal that he killed to cover their nakedness as a picture of the blood of His Son that he would send into the world so that we could be forgiven and CLOTHED with Righteousness. Therefore our clothes are a constant reminder of our sin, Christ’s blood, and our NEED to be CLOTHED in HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS so that we can stand in the presence of a Holy God. (Gen 3:21; Is 61:10; Zech 3:4)
How should we as Christian women dress?
To the Glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31, Westminster Catechism Question 1)
You are probably thinking, “Wow, that’s as clear as mud.”
And you are right!!! There aren’t lists of what is modest and what is not in the Bible. The Immodest Proposals list is just a comic way of showing how culture informs our views of what is modest and what is not. In fact in Uganda their are some places it is more “acceptable” for a woman to be topless then to show her knees in a short skirt.
What does it look like to dress to the glory of God? Well we know that the Holy Spirit dwells within us as Christians and we are also told we are ambassadors for Christ. We represent Him all the time. Growing up I went to many high school athletic events and as an ambassador for NC, it was inappropriate to wear green (the color of the cross-town rival). Just last week I had a green vest on and my mom told me to change before the game. In the same way we represent Christ in what we wear.
My 3 year old is all about asking “why” and I am trying to teach him that it is great to ask “why” but he needs to obey even if he doesn’t understand. The same goes with rules of how to dress. I think we should ask “why” and maybe the rules will change, but until then it is glorifying to God to obey the people God has put in authority. I will admit that I have not always succeeded at this, so if I ever disobeyed your rules, I’m sorry!
1 Timothy 2:9 is one of the few verses that speaks to how we dress. Timothy says that women should dress respectable and with self-control. So when we get dressed we should let our theology inform our dress.
To the woman with her nose in the air:
You were dead in your trespasses and sins, just as dead as that other girl, and you needed to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Your modesty needs to be a result of that not a good thing you do to earn favor with God. (Titus 3-5-7)
Just to be clear a woman with rules is not the same as a legalistic woman.
*and to the daughter of that woman:
standing naked in front of your husband is not a bad thing. God created us naked in Eden and has redeemed nakedness in marriage. Marriage after all is a picture of Christ and the Church and before God we stand with NO SHAME.
To the woman who is told that a man has the right to rape her if she doesn’t cover up:
When Eve held the apple out to Adam and he took and ate. HE WAS RESPONSIBLE (Gen 3:12) and his answer that the woman gave it to him did not hold water. I’m not saying that it isn’t important to love our brother by dressing modestly. It is important. Love for others is definitely glorifying to God, but men are always responsible for their own sin.
To the girl who is dressing to gain approval:
It doesn’t matter if you are wearing a denim jumper for your parents approval or a bikini to gain the approval of your friends and boy friend. You are clothing your self with fig leaves in hiding rather than coming to Jesus who will clothe you with the Righteousness of Christ because of His blood so that you can stand with approval in the presence of God. (Eph2:8-9) It is a heart issue: are we desiring the approval of people or desiring to please God. If we so deeply desire to please people, then we should check our heart because we are thinking, “God is not enough.”
There is an immodesty epidemic because we have a sin epidemic. We first need the hearts of women. Women need to know Jesus Christ and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
*parents should have rules/ guidelines for their children because as parents we are to train and guide our children. Especially for young children it is most loving to give specific “rules” to follow instead of being left wandering to figure it out on their own. (Prov 22:6)
I love a quote that my friend Jess shared with me from Stacie Johnson, “Having rules to follow is much easier than having to think about the reasons behind the rules.” We need to have rules because we do not think great thoughts about God as often as we should, when we start consistently thinking about God the rules will not matter because everything we do will be to bring Him glory.
I’m sure there is plenty I have missed, this is a huge topic and a long discussion. What would you add about thinking rightly about modesty?